My girls sometimes bring me a necklace or ball of string that is hopelessly wound up and knotted inside itself and ask me to fix it. It makes me smile that they think I can solve unsolvable problems, fix unfixable things, and unwind the unwindable. And so I sit holding one knot between my fingers, and I slowly work the metal with a needle in my other hand, until the grip begins to loosen. Eventually, the knot releases, and I move on to the next, until after considerable effort, I present them with a beautiful, long, unwound chain. Victory.
As we shelter in place, so many things are unwinding. Our routines, rhythms, and long ingrained ways of doing things have been upended. Upon finding many knots in my own life, I began to wonder, “When did I start getting wound up in the first place, tight, constricted, and just plain full?” It started with a deceptive and subtle yet unmistakable pattern. I said yes. To everything. “I can do that…let me help.” “I could do this.” “And that…” One tiny this and that became massive roles, responsibilities, burdens, and cares. Knot. Tighten. Grip. Pull. Until there was no more slack in the rope of my life.
And now, the world has stopped and I find myself longing to unwind and let go of many things I wish not to carry with me into the future ahead. Shakespeare, in The Tempest, calls seasons of substantial change such as this a sea-change. “Nothing of him that doth fade, but doth suffer a sea-change, into something rich and strange.”
I’m struck by the word ‘suffer’, but it’s true that unwinding and untangling is painful. Yet when we do, when we seek out the sea-change, what rich and strange new possibilities await?